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Conserving Fuel and Electricity

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Satellite image of the U.S. by night, courtesy of NOAAWith today's slim profit margins and the uncertainty of fuel supplies and prices, it makes sense to make every energy dollar go as far as possible. Suppliers and processors are passing on increased energy costs as markups and surcharges for almost everything farmers and ranchers purchase. While U.S. farms have almost doubled their average energy efficiency over the past 25 years, high energy costs are putting many producers gravely at risk.

Some farms and ranches are able to capture big energy savings by simply maintaining their equipment better or installing new high- efficiency motors, fans, or lighting. Other producers find that more drastic changes are required: for example, reducing or eliminating tillage, converting to grass-based livestock operations, or switching to drip irrigation.

NOTE: Some of the following documents are available as Adobe Acrobat PDFs. Download Acrobat Reader.

ATTRA Publications

Comparing Energy Use in Conventional and Organic Cropping Systems - IP339


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Conserving Fuel on the Farm - IP310


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Dairy Farm Energy Efficiency - IP355


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Draft Animal Power for Farming - IP335


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Efficient Agricultural Buildings: An Overview - IP220


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Energy Saving Tips for Irrigators - IP278


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Energy-Efficient Lighting for the Farm - IP369

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Farm Energy Calculators: Tools for Saving Money on the Farm - IP326


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Maintaining Irrigation Pumps, Motors, and Engines - IP299


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Measuring and Conserving Irrigation Water - IP280


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Micro-Hydro Power: A Beginners Guide to Design and Installation - IP383

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Micro-Hydro Power: Is It Right for My Farm? - IP384

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See It On The Farm

Hydro Power for Gravity Flow Irrigation Systems


Coping with High Energy Prices on the Farm
A web site from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University, offering an excellent collection of fact sheets and "how to" information.
Energy and home Sustainability
Put together by the Center for Ecological Technology, this page provides information on household technologies that can reduce electric bills and increase energy efficiency.
Energy Efficiency in Agriculture
From the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy: Increasing efficiency in the agricultural sector can improve the financial situation of small farms, have a significant effect on easing the burden on the grid, and decrease pollution and dependence on foreign oil.
Downloadable papers that cover many farm energy related issues such as how to select the right type of livestock ventilation fan, crop drying and irrigation energy savings.
Estimating Farm Fuel Requirements
A three-page PDF by the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension that compares the average fuel requirements for varying farming tasks using gasoline, diesel or LP gas.
Farm Energy Audits: Availability, Usefulness, and Cost
Based on interviews with dozens of audit providers, agencies, utilities, farming and energy organizations, as well as hundreds of agricultural producers from around the U.S., this 2009 NCAT report offers recommendations for improving energy efficiency efforts in rural areas.
Farm Energy Efficiency
A page with multiple resources for energy efficiency in agriculture.
Farmstead Energy Audit
This North Dakota State University Extension publication gives energy-saving tips for tractor and field operations, grain drying, indoor and outdoor lighting, irrigation, livestock watering, livestock buildings, farm shops, and the home.
Focus on Energy: Agriculture and Rural Business
Includes a variety of fact sheets related to agricultural energy efficiency such as CFL lighting on farms, ventilation fans for animal housing and cost-effective grain drying strategies.
Greenhouse Energy Cost Reduction Strategies
A web site from the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University that provides summary information on production strategies and technologies that greenhouse growers can use to consume less energy and improve production efficiency.
Peak Performance of Tractors and Other Diesel Engines
Achieving (and maintaining) peak performance with farm equipment will result in many benefits, such as high fuel efficiency, reduced maintenance expenses, reduced downtime, and extended life. Courtesy of Penn State Cooperative Extension.
Reduce Energy Costs in Agriculture
A two-page PDF by the Mississippi State University Extension that includes potential cost-cutting suggestions farmers should consider to reduce the impact of energy costs in the home, in farm buildings, and in the field.
Save Big on the Farm by Conserving Fuel
A two-page PDF compiled by Washington State University Extension that includes tips for reducing fuel consumption and adopting alternative fuels.
Selecting Energy-Efficient Tractors
This page discusses how the Nebraska Tractor Tests, conducted at the University of Nebraska, can be used to compare tractors on the basis of energy and power performance.


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This page was last updated on: January 19, 2015